Saturday, 14 August 2010

Angry Homemade Noodles

I had the amazing privilage of contributing part of my story to a brilliant ebook by my friend Mandy Steward. The following is included in chapter 3 - some of it you will have read before but I've included a little more detail. I urge you to buy the book as it is such an encouragement - Mandy is incredibly gifted.

"I’m a child of the ‘70s, born and bred in Belfast in the height of the ‘Troubles’. My mum and dad met when they were very young, and Mum got pregnant. Two weeks before I was born, my dad was shot in the spine. Shocking, I know! As a result, Dad has been in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down ever since.


Initially, he was given only a few days to live. Weeks turned into months, months to years. It’s been 36 years, and he’s still with us. Mum and Dad are still happily married. They have an incredibly difficult life (Mum cares for Dad full time), but they love each other and have gotten through an amazing amount of ‘near death’ situations. They have never displayed any bitterness. They sacrificed their life to make mine the best it could be.

Ever since my teenage years, I’ve experienced a ‘roller-coaster’ ride of emotions. I would be really ‘up’ for a few weeks, then plummeting to an incredible low, then ‘up’ again. At that time, it was easy to write off the cycle as hormonal, but as I got older, I never grew out of it. It also could have been so easy to blame this ‘high & low’ existence on the stress of living with a paraplegic dad and a mum who was trying desperately to hold everything together.

I became a Christian when I was 16 years old and joined an amazing, lively church. I had a growing relationship with Jesus but still battled for emotional stability. I began to get frustrated with my character flaws, especially as others noticed and lovingly commented about my lack of consistency.

I got married, became a primary school teacher, had a daughter, and was very involved in church leadership. I tried to combat the feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and numbness by keeping very busy. One day, three years ago, I found that I just couldn’t keep self-medicating any longer. I remember sitting at my desk after my class had gone home, feeling absolutely nothing. I even contemplated pushing the scissors I was holding into my leg - I wanted to feel something, anything, so badly! This was the beginning of my breakdown.


I felt like such a failure. Why couldn’t I cope with life like everyone else? These weren’t just my thoughts - some of my ‘friends’ voiced these statements to me, reinforcing the belief that I was useless, weak, and worthless.

Around this time I developed an eating disorder. I think I just wanted to be able to control something in my life, and I could control how much I ate quite easily. I lost a lot of weight, became very ill, and was referred to a specialist in a hospital. I was at the end of myself. I knew I needed help. I was destroying my relationship with my husband and my daughter. I had to take a year off work. I stepped down from all leadership responsibilities at church. I felt deep embarrassment and shame.

I took medication for my depression; however, this alone was not to be the answer and the escape from all my pain. It was a great tool, but it was only when I allowed God access to all of me that I began a journey of recovery.

This scripture really helped me during the process (as did the unconditional love of God, my family, and my church):

“My soul waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times… Pour out your heart before Him…” (Psalm 62:5-8, NKJV).


I discovered I could be completely honest with God, and He would still love, accept, and desire me - what a release and relief that was! I could come out from behind the ‘fig leaf’ I stupidly thought was hiding me from His gaze and attention. His kindness has literally brought me to my knees. When I finally admitted that I couldn’t keep it together, that I felt so lost and alone, His love came rushing in, filling every empty space.

It’s been three years, and today I would say I’m still learning a lot and taking it a day at a time. It has been incredibly painful, and I lost quite a few friends along the way who couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t ‘get over it’.

I’ve learned that an addiction is something that controls people - something they feel they cannot do without or something they do to alleviate pain or pressure. I’ve discovered along the way that I’m an addict - addicted to approval from others. Like any addict, I look for my ‘fix’ when I get shaky. I’m learning over the years to stand on Ephesians 3:17 (Amp) - “May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.” My security has to be IN HIM, not other people.

After feeding the multitudes, Jesus told the disciples to gather up the leftovers “so that nothing may be lost or wasted.” (John 6:12) There’s no way we can escape pain in life. But I’m learning it doesn’t have to be wasted. I’m letting my pain be someone else’s gain"

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Back to life, back to reality


One of my favorite movies is an old Robert Duvall picture called Tender Mercies. Great story of an alcoholic country western star who hits rock bottom and gets his life back together. The central line of the theme song is, "The hardest thing...for me to face...Reality."
Which got me to thinking about T.S. Eliot's line, "Humankind cannot stand very much reality."
There are things about your own life you get a glimpse of - something in your thought life you'd better get a hold of, something in your family you'd better face, something about your health or your finances - and three days pass and it's gone.
The hardest thing, for us to face...Reality.
We just want life to be good. We avoid the disturbing or demanding parts of reality as a matter of daily practice.
I don't want to have to face up to the pain - if I'm honest, I desire a comfortable, easy life. This just ain't gonna happen. There are issues in my life that I have swept under the carpet...hoping they would just disappear. I'm having to reach under, take each item, blow off the dust and cob-webs and examine them in the cold light of day.
This is painful...but I'm trying to face reality.